Bad Times for NJ Medical Marijuana Law

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCPhiladelphia.com
    Narcotics officers confiscated $1.2 million worth of marijuana plants and packaged pot from a University City home Wednesday night.

    New Jersey's brand new medical marijuana law will likely have to wait an extra 90 days before patients can start lighting up legally.

    After the Administration of Governor Chris Christie said it needed more time to draft the rules and regulations that will governor the state's Alternative Treatment Centers(ATC), a key sponsor of the law has filed legislation to delay it from taking effect by three more months.

    Assemblyman Reed Gusciora(D-Mercer) agreed to the delay after talks with officials at the Department of Health and Senior Services.

    However, the 90 day extension in his amendment to the law is only a fraction of the six months to year delay asked for by Governor Christie.

    Nonetheless, the Governor's Press Secretary, Michael Drewniak said "We appreciate the recognition that we need more time to get this done right."

    While Drewniak would not say if the Administration could draw up the rules that will govern the ATC's within the extra 90 days, he reemphasized an  earlier point, "We just can't  let this become like the California model."

    Advocates have been threatening a lawsuit against the Governor if he failed to live up to the original deadlines in the law.

    "Our residents with cancer, AIDS and other conditions will have to wait until 2011 for legal access," wrote Chris Goldstein of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana NJ in an email, referring to the estimated three more months it will take for the ATC's to get up and running after the rules are written.

    But he recognized three months "is far less than 6-12 months requested."

    And Goldstein added "We hope that legislators and DHSS will now honor the law and put our medical cannabis program into place, without trying to completely redesign it."

    In fact, one proposal floated last week to have the marijuana grown on Rutgers University farmland(or greenhouse) is not in the amendment that was filed by Assemblyman Gusciora.

    That keeps, for now, the original language of the law that calls for each ATC to grow its own marijuana.

    Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY